Hale Pili Pau

Kumu Marques Hanalei Marzan, left, Mahealani Wong, led by Kumu Samuel Ohu Gon, today offered oli and mele in dedication and blessing of the Hale Pili in Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum. - Photo: Blaine Fergerstrom

Kumu Marques Hanalei Marzan, left, Mahealani Wong, led by Kumu Samuel ‘Ohu Gon, today offered oli and mele in dedication and blessing of the Hale Pili in Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum. – Photo: Blaine Fergerstrom

Hale Pili Pau

By Blaine Fergerstrom / Ka Wai Ola

The ancient hale pili, originally purchased in dilapidated form on Kaua’i in the early 20th century, then reconstructed in Hawaiian Hall, remained unchanged for nearly a century. Approximately four years ago, the hale was dismantled and its parts and construction documented.

Its original three-foot-high cement foundation was demolished and a new pohaku foundation, only 12 inches high, was built several yards back from the original spot. The original posts, made of rare, endangered Hawaiian tree timbers, were carefully refurbished and returned to their original positions, as were many of the original o’a, or rafters. New, less-rare native tree branches were used to fill in the framework. All was tied together with braided ‘uki’uki cordage, much of it handmade by Kumu Marzan.

Pili collected from far-flung locations was carefully dried and bundled by students of the Farrington High School Hawaiian Academy. The bundles were carefully lashed to the framework by Kumu Pomaika’i Crozier with the help of many.

Today’s ceremonies were attended by many who labored on this project, including many of the Farrington academy students.

Bishop Museum Archivist DeSoto Brown said that what he liked most about the reconstructed hale pili is that it is “down at ground level, and you can get a real feel” for what it was really like for someone who might have lived in the original.

Brown also pointed out that in the reconstruction, the door was placed in the opposite direction from the previous installation. Plans for Hawaiian Hall call for an installation of “significant gods” in the center of the museum. Brown said that the hale pili was the home of a commoner and that it would not be appropriate for maka’ainana to emerge from their home to face the most powerful of his gods.

According to Brown, Hawaiian Hall is scheduled to open to the public in August, 2009.

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